Officers from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Maritime Division recently gathered in Honiara to discuss and understand the Niue Treaty Subsidiary Agreement (NTSA) and the roles associated with national implementation.
The NTSA is a multilateral treaty of 13 Parties of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency to enhance their ability to effectively engage in cooperative surveillance operations to enforce fisheries laws and to deter Illegal Unregulated Fishing in the Pacific region.
The Solomon Islands government ratified the Treaty in 2018 following the last NTSA In-country support workshop in 2017.
The workshop introduces participants on the background of the Agreement, Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) and the proposed 2021-work plan for Solomon Islands.
Participants discussed and shared solutions in reforming national procedures related to Cross Vesting of Officers, Immunity of officers and assets involvement in a Hot Pursuit and use of force procedures, when conducting fisheries surveillance operations to combat IUU fishing.
The workshop also demonstrated the Niue Treaty Information System (NTIS), how practitioners may use for cooperative surveillance activities and initial steps to produce a user-friendly and concise national NTSA Standard Operating Procedures.
“The FFA Secretariat provided In-country support to enable Solomon Islands Government officials to fully understand the operations of the NTSA and Parties obligations in accordance with the Leaders’ direction. The NTSA overarching Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) is used as a basis to develop National procedures for each Party of the NTSA,” said Workshop facilitator and FFA’s Surveillance Operation Officer, Yohni Fepuleai.
The work is crucial to ensuring national officers have clear national procedures to follow relevant notifications required to support the planning and implementation of fisheries monitoring control surveillance (MCS) cooperative activities under the Agreement.
The FFA Secretariat will continue to assist Parties such as Solomon Islands develop procedures where required. Solomon Islands is one of the remaining two Parties of the Agreement to undertake the development of national work.
The outcome of the work will also assist Solomon Islands review and complete the mandatory Annex C1 Operational Requirements and Annex C2 National Authority notifications required as a Party. The FFA Secretariat with the assistance of the Australian Government delivered this significant work for Solomon Islands Government Officials and MCS practitioners.
Deputy Secretary Technical, Ms Rosalie Masu thanked FFA for their continuous support in assisting the Ministry Fisheries to fulfil this regional cooperation.
“I would like to thank FFA for their continuous support to the Ministry. This Agreement is an important instrument to strengthen cooperation in fisheries surveillance and law enforcement in our region. Curbing IUU requires collective regional efforts. The Ministry’s Compliance section will continue to take lead and work with other Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that our National plan is finalised,” she said.
A follow up workshop for a wider stakeholder consultation will be organised in April and MFMR and RSIPF are expected to incorporate Solomon Islands current surveillance and enforcement procedures, policies, legislation towards progressing the mandatory Annexes and SOPs.